PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Miners top Chico in round one of NorCal tourney (VIDEO) | TheUnion.com

PREP VOLLEYBALL: Lady Miners top Chico in round one of NorCal tourney (VIDEO)

With a strong defensive effort and just enough offensive fire power, the Nevada Union girls volleyball team pulled out a thrilling victory over Chico in the first round of the CIF NorCal Division-II Tournament.

The No. 6 seeded Lady Miners (34-13) got all they could handle from the No. 11 Panthers, but pulled out the five set win, 25-22, 19-25, 25-14, 24-26, 15-9, in front of the home fans at Albert Ali Gymnasium Wednesday night.

"(Our) defense started to pick up. We started to dig balls better," Nevada Union head coach Chrys Dudek cited as a key to topping Chico. "Our offense needed some work, but it came around, especially in that last game."

After see-sawing through the first four sets, the Lady Miners and Panthers headed to the fifth and final set all knotted at 2-2.

Nevada Union jumped out to a 3-0 edge with a Faith Menary kill, a Bekah McGill ace and a Greta Kramer block.

Chico responded quickly, battling back and tying the contest at 6-6.

Recommended Stories For You

The Lady Miners jetted back in front, 9-6, after a Chico error and kills from Regan Heppe and Meadow Aragon. Nevada Union didn't look back from there, outscoring Chico 6-3 down the stretch, capped by a kill from Danica Minard.

"The offense was lacking a little in a couple of games," said Dudek. "We were trying a little too hard, a little too desperate, but they worked through it and made it happen."

Leading the Lady Miners was Heppe with 14 kills to go with four aces, four digs and two blocks. Minard finished with 10 kills. Menary, who had a solid all-around game, tallied nine kills, four aces, seven digs and three blocks. Aragon chipped in with five kills and was an absolute force at the net with eight blocks. Kramer added three kills and three blocks.

Running the offense was McGill, who doled out 38 assists to go with nine digs, four kills and an ace.

Nevada Union senior defensive specialist Lauren Engleking led the team with 11 digs and tallied two aces in the win. Liberos Eliza Hales and Kendall Gould both tallied five digs each.

The Lady Miners were also strong from the service line with 13 aces as a team.

Nevada Union and Chico had faced off earlier this season, with the Lady Miners cruising to a three-set victory in September. This time around it was a lot tougher.

"(Chico) was blocking the snot out of the ball," Dudek said. "They had three lefties that all could hit and that kind of threw us off a little bit, and they were just a solid team. I'm impressed with that team, they've come a long way since we played them the first time."

The Lady Miners will now hit the road for the second round, traveling to Atherton, California to face No. 3 Sacred Heart Prep (26-8), which knocked out No. 14 Del Oro in the first round.

"We need to keep working on defense," Dudek said. "We focused a lot on offense throughout the midle part of the season. Defense is starting to catch up to us now. So, we really need to start digging balls, keep digging them on our side so we can make a play on it and just stay aggressive at the net."

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.

Leaders

NU: Regan Heppe – 14 kills, 4 aces, 2 blocks

NU: Bekah McGill – 38 assists, 9 digs, 4 kills

NU: Meadow Aragon – 8 blocks, five kills

NU: Faith Menary – 9 kills, 7 digs, 4 aces

NU: Danica Minard – 10 kills